You may have heard the phrase ‘resistant starch’ get thrown around when it comes to gut health. Adding it to your diet is a great way to support a healthy gut microbiome. However, if you don’t know what resistant starch is or what food it’s in, you’re in luck. Today I am here to tell you all about it why you need it and where to find it!
What is resistant starch?
Resistant starch is a type of starch, or carbohydrate, in some of the food we eat. As its name may suggest, it’s not digested in the stomach or small intestine. This means that instead of being broken down into simple sugars and absorbed into the bloodstream, it passes through to our large intestine and acts in a similar way to fibre, and plays an important role in our gut health.
Why do you need it for good gut health?
It plays an important role in our gut health by passing through to the large intestine and acting as fuel for our gut microbes. Providing fuel for our gut microbes helps them to grow and increase in numbers. This can help to improve the health of our gut microbiome and, as a result, improve our overall health and wellbeing.
When resistant starch is broken down by the gut microbes, a compound called butyrate is produced. This is a type of short-chain fatty acid which is important in keeping the cells of the digestive tract healthy. Compounds like butyrate have been shown to play a role in reducing our risk of digestive cancers. It has also been shown to improve insulin resistance and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Sources of resistant starch
Some foods that are high in resistant starch include:
- Legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas
- Rye and barley
- Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Unripe bananas or green banana flower
- Certain types of starchy foods, such as bread and pasta
- Nuts and some seeds
Cooking and then cooling starchy foods. such as rice, pasta and potatoes. increases the resistant starch content of these foods!
Adding this to your diet is not only great for your gut health, but it’s also really simple to do. Our favourite ways to increase resistant starch in our diet are:
- Cooking extra rice/pasta/potatoes and popping them in the fridge to add to lunch or dinner the next day
- Eat plenty of wholegrain foods such as oats, wholegrain pasta and multi-grain breads
- Make overnight oats
- Snack on nuts and seeds
- Top your salads or oats with nuts and seeds
- Add more legumes to your meals by adding them to mince
- Make pancakes using green banana flower
Side effects of eating resistant starch
Resistant starch acts in a similar way to fibre in the digestive tract. Therefore, if you drastically increase your intake in a short amount of time you may experience some unwanted side-effects. This can include gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas and bloating. The best way to minimise these unwanted side effects is to increase your intake slowly and be sure to drink plenty of water during the process.
Looking for even more ways to optimise your gut health? Read my simple six-step process to improving gut health, or head over to my article on the gut-brain axis at Verde Nutrition Co.